SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 15: Phil Gould talks with coach Ivan Cleary during a Penrith Panthers NRL training session at Sportingbet Stadium on April 15, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Renee McKay/Getty Images)

Penrith chief Phil Gould believes the NRL should expand the competition to 20 teams and split the league into two conferences.

Expansion has been a talking point in the early part of the season, with discussion circulating about whether the NRL should relocate existing sides to untapped markets or create two new teams to expand the league to a 20 team competition.

Speaking on his Six Tackles podcast, Gould questioned whether the new markets would support a relocated team, when they could have their own franchise that would be there’s to create a foundation on.

“Relocation … can you imagine if, say, Ipswich or Redcliffe, that area was to be given a franchise but we’re going to move that team from Sydney to come there. Do the locals feel like that’s their team? I wouldn’t think so,” Gould said on the Six Tackles podcast.

“So, the arguments will be along the lines I guess of, do we bite the bullet and go to 20 teams and have two 10-team conferences around the country?

“It’s an option worth discussing, but then what do those conferences look like? Is it a Sydney conference and a regional conference? But then, does that survive? These are things that you’ve really got to look into.

“I think our game has to look at particularly those two locations [Brisbane and Perth]. It’s a conversation that should be going on.”

Gould also said any relocation of a New South Wales sides would create an issue similar to that of when South Sydney were excluded from the league at the start of the millennium.

“Their brands are important, that’s the other thing,” Gould said.

“The teams that survive outside Sydney: North Queensland, the Warriors, the Broncos, the Storm, survive on the fact they’re playing against the big brands in Sydney, like your Dragons and your Roosters.

“It’s the Sydney brands, because this was once a Sydney competition, they’re the most entrenched and traditional brands.”


  1. 20 teams with two divisions, Ist division has 12 teams playing each other twice and 2nd division of 8 teams playing each other 3 times. Four teams can be added to 2nd division, Perth, 2nd Brisbane team, Adelaide and New Guinea.

    Bottom team wooden spoon of 1st division relegated each year while the premiers of 2nd division promoted.

    Otherwise just stick to the expansion of Perth and 2nd Brisbane team with 18 teams and retain the top eight semi final system.💪🐔👍

  2. I like the idea of the two 10-team Conferences, although it will take some getting used to. Also, I can’t believe the idea of a ‘Sydney’ conference and a ‘Regional’ conference are still being suggested. It’s insane. Not only does that limit half of the competition to just being able to expand in Sydney, without disrupting half the competition. Also, come the end of the season, the sydney teams will be fresh compared to the regional teams who have been jetting around the country and beyond all year for away games. It’s just stupid. If we were to have 2 conferences, we’d have to divide Sydney, keeping the local rivalries like this:

    Northern Conference:
    1. Brisbane Broncos
    2. 2nd Brisbane Team (Redcliffe?)
    3. North Queensland Cowboys
    4. Gold Coast Titans
    5. Newcastle Knights
    6. PNG Side/Adelaide Side if PNG doesn’t work
    7. Penrith Panthers
    8. Parramatta Eels
    9. Manly Sea Eagles
    10. Wests Tigers

    Southern Conference:
    1. NZ Warriors
    2. Perth Side
    3. St George Illawarra Dragons
    4. Canterbury Bulldogs
    5. South Sydney Rabbitohs
    6. Sydney Roosters
    7. Cronulla Sharks
    8. Canberra Raiders
    9. Melbourne Storm
    10. 2nd NZ side

    That’s the most geographically practical you’re gonna get whilst maintaining the rivalries we need to keep together. A finals series would take the same form as now, with the top 4 teams from each conference, after each team plays each other team in their conference home and away during the regular season.

  3. it wont work because 16 teams is too many as it is. They should do a format similar to the NFL where they take the 16 teams and break them into 4 conferences and just play the one game against each other. the top two from each conference makes the top 8 and we have the normal finals football play off format. crowd numbers are down and the season is too long especially with players complaining about burnout. Limit the footy and people will appreciate the game and product more because lets face it, sydney and the people take the nrl for granted.

    • As good an idea as that is, it’s unlikely at best. Taking teams out will reduce the games per round, thus less money from the tv deal and such. Can’t decrease cause the NRL will lose money. Can’t stay the same otherwise it will become stale in the mid to long term. The only way forward is expansion (however that looks).

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